After a particularly rough day, the countdown to bedtime (for the boys AND me!) begins around 2 or 3 pm. And I try to fill that seemingly endless span of time with fun stuff to do--like playing outside when the weather cooperates, looking at "I Spy" books or playing Leapster games with the boys or making crafts. TV creeps in there, too--probably too much--but I try to interact with both boys on a personal level.
On a personal level. Too many times we can forget about being personable with our own children. Sometimes we think of stuff to do just to get closer to that wonderful bedtime hour. But how much we miss with our children when we wish our time with them away. This is a lesson I'm learning. It's hard--especially as a stay-at-home mom who spends so much time with the kids--to be engaged with them all day. I'll admit it: I don't particularly like to play, especially some of the things boys like to play, although digging for worms is kinda fun. I like "me" time, but sometimes the "me" moments outweigh the "kid" moments--and that's no good.
When I make a connection with one of the boys, nothing can beat that feeling. As an example, I've tried over the past couple of months to explain to Nathan (almost 5 years old) about how Jesus died for our sins but then rose again to conquer death. He can tell anyone now that Jesus suffered for us.
He knows that "bad guys" put thorns on Jesus' head, that the aforementioned bad guys offered a thirsty Jesus vinegar, instead of ice cold milk (Nate's drink of choice), that they whipped Him and gave him "boo-boos" and that he died on a cross. And after telling me all that one day, he turned to me and said "I love Jesus, mommy" and it doesn't get much better than that from my perspective. It makes all those moments when you just wish the clock would strike bedtime hour melt away.
I still love to watch my children sleep though. It's a wonderful opportunity to sit next to them, to appreciate them for who they are, and to thank God for the honor of being their mother.